Why does there have to be hardships? Why does there have to be suffering? Why does COVID-19 have to shadow over my whole entire life at this moment? These are the questions I find myself asking today.
One of the things I appreciate the most about the Bible is how incredibly real and honest it is with hardships in life and the chaos found in the world. All throughout the Bible we find humans asking the same questions we ask today. Chapter after chapter we see people that are going through tough times as well, with dimly lit futures that appear darker than the current day. There is not one single passage that promises the easy life I think I would enjoy so much, and to be honest, I do not like that. Naturally, this challenges me, goes against my desires, and causes me to change my worldview and my way of thinking.
Why do I value a Bible that promises such things? Because it is real. As much as we do not like to think about it, we know there are ups and downs in life. Although we all dream for a peaceful and perfect life, we may chase it and still end up as ashes in the end. This is why we begin the Lenten season pondering verses such as “God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” and “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Although these are verses none of us likely have on our throw pillows at home, they completely describe our human situation. Ash Wednesday teaches us to apply the residency technique of “setting realistic expectations.”
Our hope today, however, is this is not the end of the story. From Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday, we encounter and experience a God that asks the same questions we ask and does something about it. We read the story of the Cross and see unjust suffering in the most humiliating of ways. We experience our Creator, the one that breathed life into our nostrils, having His beaten out of Him by the created. We see a God that answers the hard questions we ask Him, and in His answer, we see a gift freely given to us through believing and trusting in Him. This is not the end of the story.
The Cross tells us God is for us and not against us because He walked among us and died for us. We get to believe in a God that gives us the solution. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” “Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.” Yes, suffering along with joy may last a lifetime, yet take heart, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”So here we are, looking forward to an eternal peace that is to come, yet still in this world with its trials, tribulations, COVID-19 problems, and no toilet paper. Yet thanks to the God and the story of the Cross, we see that we are not suffering alone. Another thing I appreciate about Bible is that very promise, you are not alone. One of the throw pillow biblical passages, Psalm 23, promises us just this. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” God does not pat us on the back, send us on our way, and say “good luck.” God does wait in Heaven for us to get there, taunting us as we struggle up the mountain. He is with us. He is protecting us. Once again, this is not the end of the story. This brings us to practice another resiliency technique, putting our problems into perspective. As we join (within 6 feet) and fight COVID-19 together, may you hold on to these truths with me and ponder them day and night. Hunt the good stuff with me. Happy Easter, may God bless you and your family, and stay safe.